I've just gone through this exercise and have read up on everything and like you I have a 40ft sailboat and like you am young and very strong.
I will prefix this with I'm not currently cruising, but am JUST about to go (house settles in December, so am now 100% committed, so gotta go!
For the past 6 years in Sydney
, I have been ab(using) a 3.4m PVC inflatable
which was sold to me by Sirocco (Oz company, made in China) as a Hypalon RIB
. Dodgy sales practices aside this thing has been out in the sun for 10 hours a day, and has carried tonnes of stuff - including sharp metals, whole sheets
of ply etc... it has had solvent spills on the tubes, hot bits of metal falling on it etc etc.. and thankfully it has coped very well.
Why this history
? Because I'm not sure about the negative publicity about PVC - admittedly this is Sydney
and not the tropics, but hey.
The thing you DO need to really look at though is the floor of a RIB
- the thing that happened to me on the Sirocco is that the hull
filled with water
and it now easily weighs over 100kg.
To repeat: I think the most important thing with a RIB is that you MUST check how the floor is constructed.
In this case, it was cored, and the leak was from an improperly sealed eye-bolt in the bow. (of course, Aluminium RIBs don't have this problem).
If you are going to buy a cored RIB, then you MUST take out all the fittings, ream out the core
and pack with epoxy
etc just like on a cored deck
. All the sales people will tell you "don't worry mate, we're professionals and we used sealant
everywhere" - but I really don't think sealant
is enough in the long term.
So my purchasing
decision was based on the following criteria:
1. Size when deflated (foredeck is small)
2. floor construction method
3. what size engine
will it take
4. what size engine
will it plane with and how easy is it to manhandle
5. in the very unlikely
event that a manufacturer will honor its warranty, it would be nice to have an international warranty of some sort.
For "1" I ended up with two options - the Zodiac
Cadet Compact 250 and the Mercury/Quicksilver Dynamic 250. Both will fit on my foredeck and still leave me a bit of space to walk.
For "2" however, the Mercury/Quicksilver (and most other RIBs I looked at), the floor was cored, and I have enough work to do without messing about packing cores on a dinghy
when I've just done several hundred holes already for deck
fittings on the big boat.. Zodiac was the only non-Al one I found with a single vacuumed resin/single skin glass floor with no core
For "3" - all manufacturers are liars and they break it down by market segment, not about actual suitability. I confirmed this at the Mercury
stand at the last boat show
here as this has always bothered me: "why is one dinghy
rated for 5HP and another VERY similar one is rated to 10HP?"... one immediately thinks quality/strength, but when you think about it - most is just market segmentation... So, the Mercury/Quicksilver was rated for 6HP (from memory) and the Zodiac
was rated for 8HP, despite its (weaker) folding transom.
Now, I want to plane for the reasons Jim has pointed out above - it's about transport
, not zooming around for fun or "coolness factor". We have a approx 2.3m draft
, so will likely always be anchoring
further out and travelling longer distances.
So at this stage, I was thinking Zodiac, despite the negative reviews
and the PVC material versus Mercury's Hypalon.. it also has a folding transom, which means a more compact fit on my foredeck. So I then spoke to the Zodiac people WHO SWORE that I could get it to plane with 2 people with only a 3.5HP... yeah right. (I went for the max rated 8HP, which is actually the highest power you can get before the next weight bracket up from memory)
For 4: I'm strong. Really strong. But it doesn't count 100% when trying to balance on deck and carry an outboard! It definitely doesn't translate from land - i.e. I can carry a 42kg 18HP (Mercury/Tohatsu) on land, but wouldn't dream of manhandling it on deck.
So here is decision time - for me, I don't/can't have davits
, have about 1m of freeboard and have a reverse transom, so the dinghy will have to be lifted using a sling and spin halyard
directly onto the foredeck. I've tried a variety of options and this is the easiest for me: bring dinghy alongside beside foredeck, prepare sling, REMOVE OUTBOARD
AND LIE DOWN IN DINGHY, attach halyard
, crank away.
Once the dinghy is on the foredeck, I pick up the 8HP and walk it to the transom and put on the bracket. I've only done this in calm weather
, and can attest that despite it's comparatively light weight (for me), it is not as easy as I thought it would be, as it's quite easy to lose balance and/or trip over the mountain of deck hardware
I have. So without mechanical aids, I don't think I could reliably walk around a 15HP on deck. YMMV.
for thought regarding engine sizing.
Now, the other piece of information is that on the Zodiac 2.5m RIB, with an 8HP 2-stroke, we BARELY get on plane with 2 people. So if you want to plane and have the dinghy be more than a 100m max distance flat water
putt-putt... then I don't think you can go smaller.
So in summary: get a solid floor (no core), and for a 2.5m length RIB, I think you'll need 8HP, which if you're strong enough, should be able to manhandle/walk around on deck (but it's not super easy, as on land).